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Obama Sides with Vatican in Abuse Lawsuit

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Obama administration has made a rare foray into the Catholic sexual abuse crisis, backing the Vatican’s claim it is immune to lawsuits in the U.S. because it is a sovereign nation.
In a brief filed on Friday (May 21) before the Supreme Court, the acting solicitor general argued an appellate court erred in 2009 when it ruled the Vatican could be held liable for the alleged sexual abuse of a Seattle-area man in the 1960s.
The Supreme Court is considering the Vatican’s appeal of “Holy See v. John V. Doe.” Lawyers from the Department of State and Department of Justice joined the acting solicitor general’s brief, which asks the high court to send the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Lawyers for the unnamed man argue that the Vatican transferred the allegedly abusive priest from Ireland to the U.S., despite knowing of accusations against him.
But with limited exceptions, the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act of 1976 protects foreign governments from being sued in U.S. courts.
“Improperly subjecting a foreign state to suit can in some circumstances raise foreign relations and reciprocity concerns,” the Obama administration’s brief argues.
In 2005, the Bush administration successfully urged a Texas court to dismiss a suit against Pope Benedict XVI because he enjoys immunity as the Holy See’s head of state. The government filed a similar motion in 1994 in a suit against the late Pope John Paul II.
In an separate case ongoing in Kentucky, the Vatican is arguing it is not responsible for bishops who transferred abusive priests because the bishops are not Vatican employees.
Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Abused Priests, called John Doe’s suit an “uphill struggle,” but said “we’re glad this brave victim still has a chance to expose Vatican complicity in horrific child sex crimes.”
– Daniel Burke
c. 2010 Religion News Service\
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • nnmns

    That’s too bad. I presume Pres. Obama is afraid US officials will be sued in foreign courts. If a US president did anything like this, or the US government did, it deserves to be sued.

  • pagansister

    So the Vatican is a sovereign nation? It is the head quarters for a religion, so how does that make it a nation. Personally, I think the Vatican should be sued, primarily Benny, as he is the head of that Nation. IMO, Benny should take responsibility for what happened in his empire. He is the chief honcho, after all.

  • Tom

    Personally, pagansis, I feel you, “Benny”, and President Obama should all have bears together on the WhiteHouse patio and see if you can’t come to some sort of agreement.

  • Tom

    …err, I mean beers!

  • nnmns

    Could I have one of those bears?

  • Goodguyex

    nnms and Pagansister, no doubt Obama does not love the pope or the Vatican or the Catholic church any more than you do. You correctly state he is doing this for himself. However he is making the right decision for whatever reasons.
    (BTW: there is no evidence Pope Benedict has any direct involvement in the priest pediphile thing. Yes he is involved by association but so is everyone guilty by some association.)
    But all is not lost for you! Seems like several months ago I read that atheists in the U.K. including perhaps Richard Dawkins are going to arrest Pope Benedict as he steps off the plane on his scheduled visit to the U.K. this fall. Maybe you can join in the party.
    The last megalomaniac to arrest a pope was Napoleon Bonapart.
    Enjoy!

  • nnmns

    Happily there are other countries and perhaps they will take a more realistic view toward suing the Vatican. And anyway the courts could reject the Administration’s argument but I’m not hopeful they will.
    It would be fun to watch if some country had the cajones to arrest the Pope and put him on trial when he mistakenly stopped by.
    Gg your ignoring of the evidence is indeed a sign of your great faith, or naivety, or desire to convince us,

  • Goodguyex

    nnms, I read the stories and it is all red herring at the most.
    It is time to move on. I read that J. Anderson the most well known suer-lawyer of the Catholic priests sees this hay day and gravy train are about over so he is moving on to sue producers of kiddy porn.
    There are some clean up issues such as rooting out emotionally immature homosexuals from the seminaries and a few other things. Maybe these is just too big a jump from the diocese to the Vatican so maybe there has to be national synods to deal with a number of issues.
    The 2000 member staff at the Vatican simply can not, and will not do busybody micromanagement of 4000+ bishops and 450,000 priests and other groups like hundreds of thousands of nuns and thousands of deacons. It simply is not possible.

  • nnmns

    Maybe it’s time to break up the Catholic Church, eh Gg?

  • Chall8987

    Goodguyex,
    I don’t think “rooting out emotionally immature homosexuals from the seminaries”, as you put it, will be enough to stop this crisis. have you not read the Church commissioned study which shows no link to sexual orientation and a tendency for sexual assault? Have you also ignored the many abuse cases where girls have been raped? There’s also the fact that this crisis is international, reaching as far as South America, India, and Africa.
    But don’t worry. Despite all of this evidence you can keep your blinders up if it makes you more comfortable.

  • pagansister

    Tom…know what? I do like your idea…beers (or bears!) on the White House patio with President Obama and Benny…the scene in my mind makes me laugh…President Obama with his suit jacket off, tie loosened, shirt sleeves rolled up and Benny in is Pope dress…chugging a couple of brews! Thanks for that scenerio. :0)
    Goodguyex: Arrest Benny? Now THAT could be interesting!!

  • Henrietta22

    Are you saying Gg that emotionally immature homosexuals equal pedophiles? What do emotionally immature heterosexuals equal?

  • nnmns

    Conservatives, in many instances.

  • Henrietta22

    Thanks nnmns, why didn’t I think of that? ;)

  • cknuck

    H22, Homosexuality is certainly a sexual dysfunction much like the other disorders you mentioned but its socially acceptable because some people have decide it is not harmful to other humans.

  • Goodguyex

    Henrietta, I think emotionally immature adults often tend to seek out people their emotional age for other things.
    I well remember the cases several years ago of women teachers and young teen age boys. When the teacher open her mouth as said about 12 words it hit me that this is “a girl in a woman’s body”. Even hard conservatives such a Sean Hannity said such about these cases. Of course the human peers of the perp women, especially the boy’s mothers are the ones who want to hang the hebephilic teachers.

  • Henrietta22

    Yes, you are right about that, but in these instances there is also a psychological reason for their romantic choice, too. Another immature type of adult could also judge all people by where they are themselves emmotionally, not realizing that it also right for the people they judge to be who they are, Gg.

  • pagansister

    cknuck…How is homosexuality “harmful” to others? Besides, it isn’t a “sexual dysfunction”…except to some. How does homosexuality actually HURT you in any way..How? How does the love between 2 consenting adults HURT you in any way? It doesn’t…it has actually nothing to do with you at all.
    Please don’t feed me the Bible line or what JC was supposed to have said about it. How does it actually have a harmful effect on YOU personally?

  • cknuck

    How is breathing air after we’re done with it harmful pagan?

  • pagansister

    So cknuck….you’re in the room during a homosexual couple’s sinful copulation….and that’s the “air” your breathing? I know that is an over the top example, but seriously….the 2 people involved still have no effect on you or your life. It really doesn’t. You and yours are so not a part of anything they do in their homes. (unless you want to be). I really don’t see what your example has to do with the facts of homosexual life….because it has no effect on me or mine (except I don’t think that 2 consenting adults of the same gender are commenting any “sin”).

  • Kerberos

    ## From April 2, 2005 – over five years ago:
    “”I would say there’s a significant amount of responsibility in the lap of the papacy for the sexual abuse crisis, not only in the United States but around the world,” said Rev. Thomas Doyle, a former Air Force chaplain who has counseled many victims and advised them on lawsuits against the church. “Given that the Vatican insists on hierarchical authority and micromanagement, I think they have to take responsibility.””
    http://www.snapnetwork.org/news/vatican/debate_continues_pope.htm
    ## If the Pope can manage to concern himself with every tiny detail of the Liturgy – he can certainly take responsiblity for the continuing shuffling around of predator priests:
    http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_statements/2007_statements/012307_three_recent_cases.htm
    For him and the Vatican to fail to take responsibility for these predators, is worse than shameful – there are no words for it.

  • cknuck

    I do equate the practice of homosexuality with pollution and it does affect the condition of our world. Anytime it is lifted as normal it tilts the minds of our young. Information pollution is in direct cause of our moral erosion, our youth are very jacked up presently and it is not getting any better.

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